Epigenetics is good news. It means our DNA is not our destiny. No matter our family history, the lifestyle choices we make can effectively turn on and off some of our genes, not only affecting us individually but also our kids and maybe even our grandkids.

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In a nutshell

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How Not to Age is a scientific approach to getting healthier as you age. In this book, Dr Michael Greger digs into the top peer reviewed anti-aging research and from it he extrapolates a guide on how to extend your lifespan by slowing the adverse effects of aging. The book is not about achieving immortality, but rather how to age with grace and vitality. 

Split into 4 parts, this book covers:

  1. Slowing eleven aging pathways
  2. The optimal anti-aging routine
  3. Preserving function across 15 different body aspects and functions
  4. Dr greger’s anti-aging eight

Book Club Notes

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Zissy Looked at me like I was crazy when I said I wanted to read this book. She had read and reviewed his previous titles, How Not To Diet and How To Survive a Pandemic and while they were interesting (albeit extreme and not practical for the average person), they were not easy books to read. 

One could say the timing was perfectly aligned. We received this book right around the time I discovered Bryan Johnson (the billionaire spending millions a year to reverse aging) and I was going down a rabbit hole of fascination with the topic. Since then I have tired of them both.

The book started off great. I found the contents interesting, I was engaged and I enjoyed the sense of humour that Dr Michael Greger injected into the text. Unfortunately as the book wore on it felt like I was reading the same thing over and over again. I don’t know where exactly it changed for me because I was consistently tagging things that interested me, but by the time I got to page 500, it became harder and harder to push myself to read it. The last 100 pages were a slog which tainted any positive thoughts I had at the beginning. 

Although each section explored different aspects of aging, the concluding thoughts on how to slow down aging pathways or prevent degradation and disease all came off as the same. Long story short, a vegan diet supports all the functions that have you aging gracefully and disease free, whereas a carnivorous diet, particularly one heavily centred around protein will send you to your grave early. Long story long, read the book.

This isn’t an easy to read book and it certainly isn’t for everyone but there is a lot of interesting information in it. As I flipped through my tags, I was reminded of all the good the book did contain. I enjoyed learning about the science behind the aging pathways and I enjoyed how he summed up each section with a food for thought box, containing practical steps you can immediately take on, but overall this book felt like a giant PR push for vegan living and made me question the efficacy of randomised controlled trials and how everything I do to boost my own health is likely based on such studies. 

How do we know these work? How do we know they’re worth our money? What genes played a role in the test participants? How healthy were they to start? What other lifestyle factors could have been at play that maybe these studies didn’t take into account?

The reality is that we don’t. Trials and studies are all well and good and necessary even, but every person is their own island. We all have hundreds of factors spanning biological, physical, mental, familial, circumstantial etc. etc. that impact how we age. The only way to truly know if something works is to test it on yourself. And then when you do, you need to account for placebo effects, if you don’t have any scientific method of tracking the interventions you choose to take on. 

Circling back to the beginning, this is why Bryan Johnson fascinates me. You can call him crazy, say he looks terrible, and question what type of life he is living. However, if you had the means at your disposal and were interested in the science of aging, why is looking through studies on anti-aging to find the most promising and then testing them out on yourself in a measured way and releasing those findings to the public more crazy than a billionaire who blows their money on houses and cars? Is he not conducting the ultimate clinical trial?

10 Interventions to regulate your Aging Pathways

According to Dr. Greger’s research, only about 15 to 30 percent of our lifespan appears to be determined by genes, meaning the way we choose to live impacts our lifespan greatly. In order to leverage our lifespan leeway, he goes into great detail to explain the various aging pathways. Once he has explained the pathways and what turns them on, off or regulates them, he gives his recommendations on what you can do to improve yours.

The below is a simplified summary of some of his dietary recommendations, without the explanation on why they help. If you’re interested, I do recommend you pick up the book so you understand why he is recommending each.

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Reduce consumption of saturated fat (concentrated in meat, dairy and dessert)

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Increase consumption of fibre (concentrated in legumes and whole grains)

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Eat fresh, frozen or freeze dried strawberries daily

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Incorporate quercetin-rich foods in your diet daily (onions, apples, kale, tea, salt-free capers)

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Season meals with pippali (long pepper, which I have no idea where you’d get it from)

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 Restrict calories by 12% (that’s 250 calories of a 2000 calorie diet)

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Meeting a 400mg recommended daily allowance of folate (found in lentils, edamame, spinach, asparagus and broccoli)

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Stick to a daily recommended protein intake of 0.8g per healthy kg of body weight

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Choose plant based protein sources where possible

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Choose tea and coffee (dairy free) over soda and milk

Read If

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You are interested in the research that goes behind health recommendations and find randomised controlled trials interesting.

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Rating

5
Readability – 5/10
Writing – 5/10
Applicability – 7/10
Timelessness – 5/10
Shareability – 5/10
5.0
5.0Overall Score

The Nitty Gritty

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HOW-NOT-TO-AGE

Published by: Pan Macmillan

Genre: Non-Fiction, Health

ISBN: 978-1529057355

Pages: 601

Shop This: Takealot, Amazon Kindle

A note on our book ratings

Readability: How easy is it to read and understand what the author is saying? Do you need a dictionary or PhD to understand it?

Writing: How well written is the book? Do you find yourself wowed by the writing or unimpressed?

Applicability: How applicable is this book to daily life? Is there enough advice and actions that are easy to start applying?

Timelessness: Is the content of the book timeless or is it something that in a few years won’t have relevance?

Shareability: How likely are you to share the book?

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